Sunday, March 31, 2013

TEDxYouth@Austin - Guest Blog Post By Jackie Singer

My 15-year-old daughter, Jackie Singer, asked if she could write a guest blog post after her great experience attending the inaugural TEDxYouth@Austin event. Jackie is a high school sophomore.

By Jackie Singer

I had the opportunity to attend the first TEDxYouth@Austin. Because I have grown up in the speaking industry (my father is a professional speaker and I have attended the National Speakers Association's "Youth Leadership Program" for several years) I am often hypercritical of speakers. Too often speakers do not have both interesting information and the skills to inspire an audience. However, I truly enjoyed listening to what every speaker had to share atTEDxYouth.

The speakers and performers included Joseph Asfouri, Chris Kocek, Shree Bose, Ashley May, Premier and Final Cut, Garrett Weber-Gale, Joaquin Zihuatanejo, West Ridge Middle School Future City Team, Michael McDaniel, LimitLess Dance, Brandi Burton, Peter Stone, Ruby Jane, Jia Jiang, and Lizzie Velasquez. Each of them added something to make the event a success.

It was inspiring to hear the stories of those who had overcome big challenges and achieved their dreams. At the same time, I was disappointed in myself that I didn't start playing the violin at the age of two, had won two Olympic gold medals, or achieved something else on this level.

I believe that the team who created this event was fantastic in choosing a wide variety of speakers, of all ages and of very different backgrounds. The unique mix of speakers and entertainment was key in keeping hundreds of middle and high school kids entertained for over four hours. The hosts, Louis Lafair and Nancy Giordano, (and the entire planning committee) did a great job.

The break was also great, when we were given the opportunity to meet the speakers and ask them questions. The snacks were also a nice plus, but my favorite part of the break was the activity. Everyone had been given colored stickers with their name badge and right before break, the hosts explained that if we were to exchange our stickers with others, ending up with one of each color, we could get a keychain made by a 3D printer (that in itself was pretty awesome). The idea was for us to reach out and meet new people, talking to those who we would have otherwise ignored. Unfortunately, everyone was just asking for different colors and trading rapidly in an attempt to gain every color and then rush to get the keychain. We probably should have taken more time to talk with other attendees!

Although I was not able to stay for the reception, I walked away with a very memorable experience. I had a lot of fun and I can’t wait for next year’s TEDxYouth@Austin.

-jackie singer

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